University of South Carolina plans new facilities

Fire-safety renovations of existing buildings planned, plus new construction for support buildings

The Patterson Hall renovation will convert a traditional nine-story dormitory into a suite-style residence hall and learning center.

USC officials have said such modernizations are necessary for campus housing to compete with nearby apartments on the private housing market.

More campus housing is needed to preserve the high percentage of students who traditionally have lived on campus, trustees and student leaders agreed.

Andrew Gaeckle, the newly elected student-government president, said students are concerned about the reduced number of on-campus residences.

"The students want more housing on campus," said Gaeckle, who sits on the board of trustees because of his office. "It's a pressing issue for students."

Modernizing older dorms will result in a net loss of on-campus beds. For example, the $32 million renovation of Patterson Hall, a 600-bed dorm on Bull Street, will eliminate 100 beds in the conversion to suites.

Trustee William Hubbard, chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee, assured Gaeckle that keeping a high percentage of students on campus is still a priority for trustees.

"We realize we must be very careful about taking beds offline," Hubbard said.

Sorensen added: "Everyone in the administration is committed to more housing on campus."Reach Hammond at (803) 771-8474.

Copyright (c) 2008, The State, Columbia, S.C. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.